FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) _ One of the St. Louis region’s largest employers is donating $4.4 million for scholarships and youth employment efforts in Ferguson and the area around the town.
Emerson, a Fortune 500 company that makes a wide range of products, is based in Ferguson and employs 1,300 people at a campus near the site of protests and looting that followed the Aug. 9 shooting death of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer.

The company announced the funding commitment Thursday. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that through its “Ferguson Forward” initiative, Emerson will contribute $300,000 a year for five years to the University of Missouri-St. Louis’ Opportunity Scholars Program. The program is for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) students who are minorities or whose parents didn’t attend or graduate college.

Thirty scholarships each year will be available to graduates of the Ferguson-Florissant, Normandy, Jennings, Hazelwood, Riverview Gardens and Ritenour school districts. Emerson previously donated the same amount annually to UMSL, but funding for the next five years will go to students in north St. Louis County.

“Ferguson is our home and has been for the last 70 years,” chairman and CEO David Farr said in a statement. “We choose to be here and are committed to this community, especially now in its increased time of need. We believe in hope and opportunity and want to help remove barriers so that more of our neighbors can succeed.”

Meanwhile, Emerson is donating $750,000 for youth employment efforts through MERS/Goodwill Industries and the STL Youth Jobs program. Emerson’s funding will sponsor 100 jobs for those aged 16 to 23 in the Ferguson area.

The funding will allow the STL Youth Jobs program to expand for the first time into St. Louis County, said Hilary Wagner, vice president at MERS/Goodwill. Until now, the program was available only in St. Louis city.


Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com